This dish is kind of like the perfect storm.
It’s the culmination of food cravings, veggies about to go bad, and a return to a more vegetarian fare.
Loaded up with cheese and baked to perfection.
Let’s discuss details.
Remember when I went paleo? Lasted about a month, but, give or take a carb, I’m mostly back to my old ways of eating. I did learn a few things, though.
1. Thou shall not be afraid of fat. Avocados and nuts are now staples in my diet.
2. Thou shall make protein an important part of a meal. It’s the key to staying full!
3. Thou can use cauliflower to make anything. Really.
Every week I would buy a head of cauliflower, vowing to make something different with it, and every week I would just stick it on a tray and roast it. It was so good that way, I couldn’t bare to mask the vegetable as something else.
Anyway, over the last few weeks I’ve been cutting back on my meat consumption. I came to the conclusion that I’m not really that into meat, and with no food allergies, it seemed silly to be cutting anything out of my diet, like grains.
My poor box of quinoa had been sitting in my kitchen untouched for weeks due to the paleo influences, and I had been craving its subtle, nutty flavor.
Then another craving hit: cheese.
Thank the universe for google, because so many, many wonderful things popped up when I typed in “quinoa mac and cheese.”
I was pulling all of the ingredients out of the fridge to start cooking when I noticed some cauliflower on the verge of going bad.
And just like that, the dish came together.
I’m calling this a casserole rather than faux mac and cheese, because while it does satisfy my cheese craving, it really is more casserole-like than a creamy bowl of macaroni and cheese.
Wow – that was a long explanation!
Here we go:
Broccoli Cheddar Quinoa Casserole with Cauliflower Crumb Topping
(loosely based on this recipe from Kitchen with Kate)
- 1-1/4 cups uncooked quinoa
- 3 broccoli crowns
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of milk (any kind will do, I used Silk almond milk)
- 2 cups chicken broth (optional – you can just use water if you want)
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 4 tsp grated parmesean cheese
- Garlic powder – as much as you want!
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Break up the broccoli crowns and throw the florets into a big pot with about a cup of water on high heat. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the broccoli turns bright green and has softened. Then mix in the quinoa with 3 additional cups of liquid. I did 2 cups of chicken broth and one cup of water, but you can change this up as long as the ratio of quinoa to water stays the same. Let the liquid come to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking, grate your cauliflower in a small bowl and toss with the parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and milk. When the quinoa broccoli mixture is done, pour it into the bowl with the eggs and milk and add in all the cheese. Stir everything together so the cheese begins to melt a bit.
- Transfer the whole thing into a casserole dish that has been greased with cooking spray. Sprinkle the grated cauliflower mixture on top and pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower begins to brown on top.
I was really surprised at how thick this casserole came out! The eggs really help set the whole dish.
I can’t wait to try out more variations of this dish – it can definitely made with whatever you have lying around. Get creative! Try a different kind of cheese, throw in some different veggies, the possibilities are endless.